Wear your mask when you go to court


Hall of Justice, in Port of Spain. File photo/Jeff Mayers

ALL COURT users will have to be masked to enter any court building.

On Saturday, the latest covid19 practice directions, issued by Chief Justice Ivor Archie, were gazetted.

The new practice directions follow similar directions in March which allowed jury trials to resume after they were halted two years ago as one of the measures to control the spread of covid19.

There have since been three jury trials; two in Port of Spain and one from the San Fernando High Court at the O’Meara judicial centre in Arima.

The latest practice directions also follow the lifting of the national mask mandate on July 17.

Now, businesses have the final say on mask-wearing rules, while wearing face coverings is mandatory at public and private health institutions.

The practice directions say, “Any person who accesses a court building or other facility of the Judiciary is required to comply with health and safety protocols including the wearing of face mask, face shield or face covering; screening of persons, use of hand sanitisers, taking of temperatures and physical distancing.”

Anyone over seven entering a court building or other facility of the Judiciary must wear a face mask, shield or covering

No one, even if wearing a mask, will be admitted if they have tested positive for covid19 14 days before, have been directed to quarantine and that time has not expired, or is exhibiting symptoms.

Anyone who fails to comply with these measures may be denied access to a court building but may be accommodated via electronic means or services.

Jurors must also wear masks in any courthouse. Tthose who cannot wear masks can be excused from jury service.

Those with any physical or mental illness or impairment, disability or who cannot wear one without severe distress will also be exempt.

Those who provide lip-reading assistance to someone, who are entering a courthouse to avoid risk of harm or injury and when eating, drinking or taking medicine, may not be required to wear a face covering.

The practice directions said court officials may ask someone to remove their mask temporarily for security and identification purposes or during the hearing of a case.

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